The hell that I’m in…


Hell. A place different for every person, and yet the same for all.

Willing yourself out of a hell-hole is fruitless. You can no more decide to get up, toss the cot depression has forced a deep slumber in, than the ocean can decide to leave it’s bed. Those who reside on sunny beaches do not understand. Lying on a sandy towel is far different than drowning in the sea’s bed.

I’ve not been able to write. For a writer to not be able to write, it is a very specific kind of hell. The way I keep the world from running me over like a Mac truck is to restrain it and contain it with words. Forcing life to conform to a page; insisting that it take up residence within letters, words, and sentences; it takes the helplessness away.

I’ve never written like other people do. I’m kinda an odd bird. Most people have a vague idea what they want to express, feel a burning desire, and then grab a pen and paper or the keyboard to sketch out what they want to say. It maybe only be an outline or a cluster of words or quotes, but they have a clue.

I’m not really sure how to do that. Writing possesses me, not me it. Authorship dictates what I have time for; what priority my time and obligations get to number in rank, deciding what I will do, in which specific order, to secure my release. Sometimes it can be freeing and heavenly. Sometimes it can be an impatient beast, moody and demanding. Regardless, I live within the parameters that it calls upon my soul in order to keep this life thing rolling along.

keyboard-1176257_960_720Usually I sit down, place my fingers at the keyboard, and I relax. I don’t look at my screen. I stare out the window, maybe watch a bird or a squirrel do their thing. I let my senses loose; let them carry me away while slowing my heart rate slows to a crawl, and, like a burst of life giving breaths, words spring forth and I begin to write.

Now is not the “usually” time in my life, not by a longshot. Now is hell.

Mother’s crave quiet. Mother’s crave the beauty of stillness.

Authors fear the stillness of fingers on a keyboard and the quietness of their minds.

The ability to not be able to write has not just squashed my voice, it’s murdering my wandering soul. I am no longer able to think. I can’t breathe. My lungs have a mountain of hopelessness sitting atop them.

Exhaling. All I can do is exhale. Panic rises with each bit of air that leaks out.

What happens when there’s no more air to release? Tears, sweat, then blood.

Blood begins to take the air’s place. Life giving blood pours out every crevice. Every drop empties me of the will to even try.

There was a time that words were like grains of sand. They flowed from my fingers, escaping regardless of whether I wanted them to or not. Now? What once was life giving, the act of putting words to the page, has turned on me, and, for every word that goes untyped, it punishes me.

I’ve become hollow, empty, depressed. I fell into a hole and I cant climb out.

I’m in a bottomless, wordless, hellish pit that light refuses to enter. The entrance is  sealed with nothing but a password and I can hear the mocking laugher, mocking the fact I have no words to offer.

I must escape. Much longer in this wordless hell and this damned place will become lethal. the last words that will be written will be, “The end.”

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Raising future adults — one chore and life skill at a time


So, here I am over at 123 Parenting Lane and thought I would share what’s up. I’ve begun to change how I am doing this parenting thing and I think it’s because my kids are growing up so danged fast.

It hit me a while back that I am not raising kids anymore. I don’t have babies, toddlers or little kids. I have one preteen boy and two teenage girls. Frankly the last thing I want to do is raise kids anymore. Why do I say that? Well I don’t WANT to have grown KIDS when I’m done with the official parenting thing and become an empty nester. I want to have grown adult offspring.
IMG_2233I’ve changed gears: I am now “raising future adults.” This change in mindset has completely overhauled how I do things, how I parent, how I work at parenting and how I see the day-to-day struggles and challenges. I found it actually takes a lot of stress out of the things that we once fought over. With a mindset change, it’s become easier to distance my self personally and see the end game for what it is: a practice game, dress rehearsal, a run-through before the big shindig.

Take cooking, for example. I used to cook all the meals, clean up all the mess, do all the dishes and work hard to make everyone happy. Now? Yeah, I don’t do most of that anymore. Oh, I still have dishes that I do here and there, I still cook some and plan meals, but I’m not the main source of all of it.

We have a weekly rotation of chores. One main chore for each kid, one empties the dishwasher, one fills, one cleans up the bathroom. At the end of the night, everyone takes their own stuff to their rooms and doing this keeps the house relatively sane. They do this daily. Then they each are assigned two nights to create a meal they know how to make or want to learn. Three kids + two meals each = six nights off and only one night for me to cook. My husband helps my son cook his meals. One day he will be on his own for that too.

The kids cooking not only teaches them how to make a meal but also the work involved in prep and getting it done and served. They pick meals they like, but they also respect the efforts of their siblings and that the sibling likes the meal. I rarely hear “I hate this,” or “I want something else to eat.” It’s not an option to eat anything else, and no one will die from eating something that isn’t their favorite. On a positive note here, they also know they have at least two meals a week they like, because they get to pick them.

I sit in the kitchen and work on my laptop. If they need help, I am available to answer questions, give pointers or give a hand. Often they will use the crock pot and even stick the dish in before school. Then there is precious little to do that night. They love that, and we all eat well.

Why am I making my kids cook and do all the kitchen work? Because I already know how to do all that. THEY are the ones who need to know how to do it and how to do it well when they leave home. These future adults need to know how to care for a house and themselves and feeding themselves more than PB&Js. It’s something I want them to leave home with. I remember my friends asking me how to cook stuff when I was in college, and let me tell you they were beyond clueless. When both my brother and I moved out we had cookbooks full of recipes. He’s now an amazing cook and baker on top of being an awesome dad, husband and engineer. We left home knowing things because my mom did this exact same thing with us. She rocked, even if I didn’t appreciate her smarts at the time.

So yeah, I’m done raising kids. They do complain now and again about it. I listen and say, ‘yeah, sorry about that.”  It changes nothing. We are a family and we work together to do what it takes to function and get through this life thing.

It’s important they also know that I don’t love what I have to do daily either, but I do have to do it anyway. Once they leave home, they are going to have to do lots of things they won’t love to do. It’s good practice doing things you don’t want to do and developing a decent attitude about it. After all, they can’t yell back at a boss that they don’t FEEL like doing something, or they hate that job chore, or they don’t like working next to so and so.

Giving them practice doing things they don’t enjoy, but which are needed skills, is just good parenting. It took a while to get it to work like a rusty, badly functioning clock, but, hey, we are plugging away, the hands are moving, and regardless as to if it’s timely or not, we do eventually get it all done and learn things along the way.

Eventually someday, I’ll look back and be glad I had the headaches and stress associated with raising adults, because they will invite me over for dinner and we will have food on the table and their kids will unknowingly thank me with their shrieks of “EWWWWW, I don’t LIKE that!”

Yeah, so THIS happened…


photo 2

Yep, I sometimes nap in the back of the Soccer-mom-van and I’m proud of myself for doing it too.

I don’t usually fess up to stuff, not when I don’t HAVE to.  I mean, if no one is around, no one was harmed, and it is more than a bit embarrassing, why bother? What happens between Me, Myself, and I , frankly, should stay that way. Who NEEDS to know that stuff?  For whatever reason, I have this burning need to be truthful. So even though it’s none of your business, I’ll let you in on a little tidbit of ridiculousness. There have been many days that have been hard lately, and somedays are harder than others.  There are times that in the process of doing my day, I’ll feel like I need two naps to get through it. Other times I am fine. It’s not a big deal. When the naps sneak up on me, or the NEED for one, I always obey them. It’s an agreement I made with myself a while ago; to never berate myself for my body’s needs in this, and to just give myself the refresher I need to go about living life as best I can. So I stop what I’m doing and grab a couch, snooze for 30 mins to an hour if needed, then I’m ready to tackle anything. So what happens when the nap sneaks up on me and I’ve been out running errands? I already only go within a 10-15 minute drive from my house. If I HAVE to go further, I have come up with a creative way to do it, I break the drive up into 10-15 minute blocks and run an errand between or stop the car and lean the seat back and give my brain a rest.  This is working. What isn’t working is the sneaky nap needs. I’ve not shared this with anyone, but there have been several times I have taken little short cat naps in the back of the soccer-mom van and then gone about grocery shopping, or driving the rest of the way home. The answer is to not stop going out in case this need arrises. The answer is to get creative and adjust to my changing brain and it’s needs. I refuse to give up living life and being a mom and doing mom-ish kinda stuff, and having my independence. I simply refuse. That said, I don’t dare refuse to listen to my brain when it tells me to catch a catnap, as the dropsy – falling while awake feeling signaling that the body is falling asleep while awake –  means “behave or disaster.”  Doing the dropsy behind a wheel isn’t okay. I ALWAYS obey the call to nap. photo 5What’s embarrassing about all this? Well have YOU ever opened up a van door from the backseat, unfolded yourself from it, straightening your clothes, fixing your askew hair, and felt eyes on you wondering what in tarnation you had been up to back there? No, you’ve never done it? Then don’t ask… Cause Me, Myself, and I, we know and it feels downright ridiculous. Trust me. (But it feels way better than an accident or worse.) So I will continue to embarrass myself when needed. There’s always something around here to be humbling me! P.S. Someone needs to make a van seat that leans fully flat or a back bench that is a heck of a lot more comfortable. Just sayin.

Who’s the parent here?


Who's the Parent?

Every now and then, instead of hearing my Mom’s words come out of my mouth, I hear my Dad’s. Lately it’s been one phrase in particular, “Who’s the kid and who’s the parent, here?” That was always my cue, as a kid, to shut the heck up and remember my place.

For whatever reason, something in the air maybe, my kids have been feeling their oats and forgetting that they are the ones who are NOT in charge. While I do drive what feels like a taxi service and work as a food distributor or short order cook, I am in fact a parent, not a servant.  I’ve had to reestablish that the way things get done around here are based on some expectations of us all working together as a family (aka team). Fail to uphold the expectations of the team, to fulfill requirements, and like any team, even star players will be benched. Let’s just say I am not always popular around here. That’s okay. I got over popularity contests when I stopped being in High School.

I’ve found that things don’t run smooth when we cease to respect each other, but more important, when the kids forget to respect their place. I am often shocked at how many parents allow their kids to call the shots, to be the one who runs the show, and for whatever backward reason, they actually care if their kid likes them or not. Oh don’t get me wrong, I love when my kids like me. Heck I get crazy happy when I get to be the hero! But being their friend and being liked? That isn’t going to teach them the things they need to know before they are tossed into the world to have a go at it themselves.

We have three kids and as I see it, three mini-adults-in-training who need to know how things go once they leave the nest. I, frankly, know how to cook, clean, and do chores. My charges here also NEED to know these things. If I was “popular” and did all these things for them, I would honestly be failing them as a parent. How can anyone learn if they are never instructed, get the chance to practice, and to have someone along to mentor them? So the way I see it, it’s good parenting to make my kids sigh loudly, probably hate me a bit under their breath, and get a chance to do chores, learn to cook, and to develop skills in and outside the house. As a bonus, our home runs smoother, stays cleaner, and I catch a small break where I don’t do EVERYTHING by myself.

Think I’m terrible? The kids are handed nearly everything, from toys and gadgets to food, clothes, and a warm roof over their head. Requiring them to contribute to the team for a half hour a day in chores/mentoring-for-adulthood and abiding by house rules for having homework done before partaking of anything that plugs in or uses a battery is NOT torture. It’s just good sense.

Who’s the kid and who’s the parent in your house? I hope it’s YOU!

 

This post first was published by MOMs for the July/August print issue in Fort Wayne, IN. Their website is http://moms.fortwayne.com and my blog with them is located at: http://moms.fortwayne.com/?q=blogs/blog/will-settle-chocolate

Time to take the helm


 

Boat sterring wheelThe following blog was published to my sister blog over at Moms.FortWayne.Comhttp://moms.fortwayne.com/?q=blogs%2Fpost%2Ftaking-back-helm

TO PUT IT MILDLY, it’s quite possible that THIS summer is going to be the WORST-summer-EVER. (This would be from my kids’ perspectives, and honestly, quite possibly, my own.)

 

It happens every summer. The kids come home from school to a shout of hurray and they then proceed to get instantly bored. Routines are mixed up and the usual daily rigamarole is not the usual anymore. It’s nice in a way, but it also means that the kids have a tendency to run amok. I always let the first week play out as it will, let their wind-downs happen and let summer set in. Then I try to corral them. This time around I am frustrated, irritable and annoyed.

Why so crazy? Probably because my kids are as big as I am, could eat me out of house and home because they are bored (and having teenage growth spurts) and because I am far less tolerant when my health is flared up and I am personally not on top of my game. I have decided I am taking back the helm. For whatever reason, in the week and a half since school let out, the kids have decided they run the show. Yup, they got the idea that since school wasn’t in session, normal rules don’t apply. It’s gonna be a rude wake up session starting today.

I find that I go crash into bed, and I am still finding kids rotating up for drinks, “I’m hungry”, and “can’t sleep” complaints till after 1 a.m. Yeah, totally uncool. When did bedtime stop being bedtime?  “There’s no school tomorrow so it doesn’t really matter.” I beg to differ. It matters to ME and the cranky way you’ll behave all the next day, as if it’s my fault you’re tired … oh, it matters, my child!

For some reason, we are playing musical rotating beds. My son wants to sleep on the couch nightly as if that is the only place he can crash, but then ends up in my room. Why? Because Dad works third shift and that side of the bed is empty and comfortable is my guess. I don’t buy into the new reason given every night. I’m not dumb. It’s all made up. I agree that though it began with real issues, I must admit we now are simply used to doing what we want, and so it prevails. All the children will clamor for the living room soon enough because it is getting hotter and we have one window air conditioner placed in said room. I get that, I do, but this must end. I sleep in my room … we all have rooms. Sleep in them until it is truly so hot it’s not possible. Now is not that time. In fact, in my current state of mind, it may NEVER be that time.

I know that parenting today is different than it was when I was a kid. I would never have dreamed of pulling the things my kids have pulled this week or the last few weeks of school, frankly. I’ve been lax. I’ve let things slide because I’ve felt like crap. But crappy or not, I’m done getting told what we do around here by kids. I don’t remember all my parents did, but the respect was there. It’s somehow missing here. It ends now. My kids KNOW how to respect, they just aren’t being made to. Time to man up (or MOM up)!

I’ve mandated their chores to be done and scheduled reading for an hour a day and math a half hour on a math program online, each day. All of them, with checkoff logs on the fridge. Until that’s done, don’t touch anything that plugs in. Just don’t try it. Forget? Lose tomorrow’s plugged-in time all together and still do all the work to earn the time you don’t get. Kids get one hour of plugged-in time a day, then they earn it minute-for-minute by reading or playing math games, and I’ll consider chores to trade for game time. Don’t ask me for more. Don’t ask for freebies. The answer is no.

I will lose my mind as they go through withdraw and the spasms of how unfair life is. I will lose my cool as they loathe and hate me as all teens and preteens do. Make no mistake, though, I gave them their stubborn streaks … I own the rights to the moxie they call upon. I will outlast the attitudes and the sass. I will make them rethink it in fact, for I am far more stubborn and I’ve got more moxie than they have in their little fingers.

Don’t mess with this mama! She’s taking back the summer!

 

 

 

When THEY are watching every move…


Every now and then I get a glimpse that I am not alone in our fight here behind our front door, and it selfishly feels good and is freeing.  Then I get a little sad, because I realize someone else has a life that is hard, frustrating, heartbreaking, and more than a little overwhelming. I don’t wish that on anyone. I had a Momma break-down-without-anyone-noticing moment recently when my mask was called upon to really do a a hell of a job protecting my dignity.  I wanted to break down in tears and instead had to continue to sit and be not just mom, but a smart, intelligent parent who appeared to have a clue what was going on in my daughter’s life.  I am supposed to know those things after all. I am ashamed to say, I realized that I have misunderstood some of what my daughter has told me for 15 years of her life. I got what she said, but I never understood the severity of it.  It was during a standard question and answer portion of her medication review with her psychiatrist, and it hit me like being slammed into a brick wall at 100 miles per hour. It’s a normal monthly appointment where we check to make sure the meds she’s taking both works for her still and that there are no questions, health changes, and that all the “understoods” are actually understood.  So when the doctor said, “Do you ever feel like you are being watched,” the answer is always yes.  My daughter feels on display constantly.  Anywhere we go she feels like it’s a red carpet moment. She feels unable to blend in, instead feeling intensely that all eyes are fixed on her at all times. It can be overwhelming just running in the store to grab a gallon of milk.  Running errands is fear-facing therapy sessions for us.

By artist DLouise found at http://dlouiseart.deviantart.com

By artist DLouise found at http://dlouiseart.deviantart.com

But when she said, “yes” this time, she added an explanation that changed everything. She said that it was hard for her to simply change the wallpaper on her iPad because she was afraid what “they” would think, so she always chooses something that she thinks won’t be “judged” when seen.  I asked if she meant seen by her dad and I, or her brother and sister.  She said no… she meant by “them.”  Reality began to dawn on me, because she has no contact with anyone except us on a daily basis, and after a long question and answer session, we arrived at an understanding that she felt, though never having seen the movie, “The Truman Show,” she was Truman, and every camera possible was hidden somewhere unseen, and somehow it was even possible to look through her own eyes and see what she sees and watch her every move. It was as if she were a personal reality show that could be watched, “The life of Lindsey” show, and all of THEM were watching it all the time, day and night.  THEY were not nice either, but harsh and judgmental. THEY were always looking to pick her apart. There was never a time someone was NOT watching her. being_watched_by_entangled_minds-d5fa1qrMy brilliant daughter has to sit just so in her room where she does school tucked away, so that who ever is watching will see her working away diligently and not judge her lazy or stupid.  She has trouble just relaxing and not performing for “them” constantly. She feels their eyes like you do when you get a sense of someone staring at you and the hairs on your neck stand up. She is overwhelmed and taxed to the max somedays and she doesn’t even know why, all she knows is that the feeling of someone peeking around the corner or watching from the corner of the room, just out of sight, is so intense she is almost unable to function.  I can not imagine living under that stress. She didn’t realize everyone didn’t feel that way.  She assumed everyone did. Now many things suddenly make sense. It makes sense and I am intensely sad. you-are-being-watched-sign-k-9828I knew that once she had great trouble with worry about being watched and we put a special lock on the bathroom door, thinking this would fix it. It fixed the fear of someone coming in, but never the fear of someone watching. I thought if she knew no one could come in, then she would not feel someone was watching anymore. The fact I never truly understood the extent of her personal hell just brought me to my parenting knees. Honestly?  It brought me to my human knees. I would have been broken if it were not my own child.  The fact it is my own girl just breaks me in ways I can’t put words to. Then I came across a book I have to go find.  I want to go get it for my daughter and for me to read this summer.  Not an easy read, but one I really want to dive into.  It’s called “Remnants of a life on Paper” and is written by a mother with her daughter’s diary as they traveled through the difficult roads of growing and struggling together with Borderline Personality Disorder. Found over at http://remnantsofalife.com As is so often the case, ours overlaps with eating disorders and BiPolar Disorder, and OCD.  For whatever reason, these disorders all often come on the heels of each other.  Maybe because they all play off anxiety and fears.

Regardless, it is hard for my kid. It is hard for me, my husband, and her siblings.  It is tough for our extended families to understand our life at home. It’s hard to explain because we have all gotten good at masking up the reality, going to visit and enjoy the outing, then coming home to reality and dealing with the vast array of fears and anxieties that come with trying to live every day life.

1534301_1477731715775942_8768059514068455149_nThe hardest thing however is the complete stupidity that exists outside these walls of ours.  The lack of understanding of what mental illness is.  It’s not just a few kids who decide to go on a killing rampage.  It’s a beautiful girl with long red hair, with a mass of freckles, strikingly gorgeous green eyes, and the only thing killer about her is her smile.  She can knock you flat with her grin.  She can take your breath away with her giggle and her laugh will flat out make you wish you could do anything, instantly, to gain it one more time, to hear her laugh with abandon.  This girl is amazing, brilliant, artistic, and I’m not just being a mom here, she is precious and needed by this world.  She struggles to even put her toe out into it, because she knows how harsh it is. Mental illness is just chemistry of the brain that makes if function differently than the majority of the population.  It makes it harder to do “normal” things and harder to think clearly.  It does not mean less intelligent nor stupid. Just gonna keep plugging away at loving my girl, and you have a friend here if you need one. Know I understand how hard life can get behind that pretty exterior door you shut when life gets rough.  But being there for your kid matters.  And that is the most important thing you can do.  Just love them and be there. Day after day. We will get through this thing called life, together.